Craft'n'Roll: R Ring in Madison Saturday for knitting class, rock concert
Post by Dar on 7/5/2012 3:10pm
The Events in a Nutshell:
Like knitting? Like rock and roll? Saturday, July 7 will be one heck of a day for you. Kelley Deal of The Breeders talks amigurumi (cute little knitted animals) at Sow’s Ear in Verona from 3 to 5pm. Her new band R Ring (with Mike Montgomery also of Ampline) plays the Memorial Union Terrace later that night around 9:30 p.m.
A few years ago Kelley Deal decided to start saying “yes” more often. One wonders what she had been saying “no” to prior to that. One of the things that I love about the woman is that she has always seemed willing to try anything, whether it be taking over lead guitar duties from Tanya Donelly in The Breeders back in the early 1990s (even though she didn’t know how to play guitar yet), or filling in for Carrie Bradshaw on fiddle years later (again, without knowing how to play prior to trying it), playing bass in a bizarre super-group (The Last Hard Men), writing and recording her own songs with The Kelley Deal 6000, putting together a roller derby music video for The Breeders, performing The Long Count (put on by The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner), or singing and playing bass on a Devo cover for a skateboarding video for pro skater Kristian Svitak. Or even writing and publishing a book on knitting. Yes knitting, her constant companion in stolen moments for many years. So for a woman who didn’t think she was saying “yes” enough, Kelley Deal was getting an awful lot done.
But, resolved to say “yes” more often (and bored whilst her Breeder’s bandmate sister Kim was touring the world with the reunited Pixies), Kelley found herself helping out friends Buffalo Killers on a recording at Candyland Recording Studios in Cincinnati a few years ago. It was there that she met Mike Montgomery (of the band Ampline), who was engineering the recording. A little later on, when Montgomery booked his own acoustic show, he shared with Deal his nervousness about performing solo and acoustic. So Deal joined him on stage and R Ring was born.
Both Deal and Montgomery are legitimate rock stars with plenty of success behind them, but it seems that R Ring has been taking a very DIY approach over the last few years; touring in cars or vans (often focusing on the Midwest “flyover country” skipped by larger acts, a tendency that both of their roots in Ohio likely supports), chatting with fans on social media, and weaving their other loves (knitting and skating) into tour stops. They seem to be up for anything, but exude a kind of relaxed “we just want to have some good clean fun” kind of air.
And so, last summer after an R Ring show in Chicago, I walked up to Kelley and asked if R Ring would come to Madison and if she’d hold a knitting class. The band had just finished doing the exact same thing in Chicago on a random Facebook request from a fan. To my surprise, Kelley not only chatted with me for a good five minutes about the idea, as well as such things as the book she was reading at the time (“It’s like crack. Oh, wait, that’s a bad thing to say. I mean it’s like crack but a good thing.”). Not to overplay my own role, but one year later, here they are. I like to think my asking at least put the idea in their heads.
On Saturday, July 7, Kelley is gonna stop by Sow’s Ear in Verona from 3 to 5pm to talk amigurumi. Those are cute little knitted animals. You wanna make some, I guarantee. But even if you don’t knit, you want to stop by and talk to Kelley, because she is hilarious. Sow’s Ear is a great place to talk knitting or to grab a sandwich, snack, or coffee. It is just a hop, skip, and jump outside of Madison at 125 S. Main St., Verona, WI 53593. (608) 848-2755. Expect the event to be casual, as it seems everything Kelley does feels. Stop by whenever.
And then R Ring is on to the Memorial Union Terrace to play a set for free later that night around 9:30pm.You can’t beat that.
Kelley and Mike indicate that there is an R Ring recording on the way soon (as well as projects in the works from Ampline and The Breeders). Hear some samples of what R Ring has cooking at Misra Records or listen to the excellent songs video taped in the Texas State Capitol Building by Be Lie All Video during South by Southwest this year, Hundred Dollar Heat and Fall Out And Fire. They self-describe R Ring as: “Voices, guitars and keys. Sparse, chaotic, abrasive and lulling, often within the same song.” Certainly it is very different than the music that they play in their other bands, but intriguing all the same.
You can also bide your time waiting for Saturday (or inspired after the show) by reading recent book release Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock by David Todd. Kelley is interviewed alongside her sister Kim (who, incidentally, performed her first solo show ever near LA last April 16th) and other guitarists Tom Verlaine (Television), Rowland Howard (The Birthday Party), James Williamson (The Stooges), Zoot Horn Rollo (Captain Beefheart), Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group), Richard Thompson, Lee Renaldo (Sonic Youth), Lydia Lunch, Keith Levene (The Clash, PIL), Johnny Marr (The Smiths), J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), and Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar).
Dar has lived in Madison since 1993, is an alternative transportation planner/advocate, and is former executive director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Dar also plays drums in Seven Stone Weaklings (a retro-punk cover band) and The Drain (original rock), plays bass in Crackity Jones (a Pixies tribute band) and is the author of the novel, Becoming Alec.